Basware come at eProcurement from the other end…

No, that's not a double-entendre.. all will become clear.

Jason wrote here recently about continental European strength in eProcurement, putting it down in part to the need to automate and reduce internal headcount in countries where cost of employment was / is high.  He also mentioned that invoice automation is then often a key part of the overall process, as this is an immediate area of savings.  Unlike some of the benefits of implementing eProcurement we see in business cases, that are either 'soft' (to be kind), or medium / long term (benefits of compliance, supplier reduction programmes), reducing heads in Accounts Payable can be a quick, very tangible  and relatively easy saving.

This at least in part explains the success of Basware, the Finnish eProcurement / invoice automation company.  Founded way back in the stone age of eProcurement (1985), when I was still making chocolate, they're quoted on the Helsinki stock exchange and have grown steadily to their current turnover of over 100 million Euros, and operating income of over 10 million euros,  which puts them comfortably in the higher rankings of European procurement-related software firms.

But they didn't start their corporate life with an electronic requisitioning, cataloguing and ordering front end, like many competitors.  They started with the invoicing process, and while they do now offer a full end to end P2P capability, with ordering, cataloguing and similar capability, it is still at the 'back end' of the overall process where they are particularly strong.  Indeed, a rapidly growing part of their business is what is in effect outsourced invoice management services.

Again, unlike many other firms, their sales pitch is often to CFOs rather than CPOs.  They speak the language of the CFO (something many CPOs could learn from), with talk of managing working capital, and commitment accounting.   They also focus on providing high usability to a wide range of client employees - not just the procurement department - and they're particularly strong in linking with multiple ERP systems.

"We often find that organisations have multiple ERP systems in place across their organisation. Implementing Basware is often cheaper than trying to standardise on ERP across countries and divisions, and can release significant benefits very quickly", says Juha Häkämies from the firm.

One major global client had 60 different ERP systems, and Basware integrated with all of them to drive invoicing processing savings in particular.  (You do wonder why businesses get themselves into a situation where they have 60 different ERP systems, but that's a different matter!)

As befits a serious market player, Jason has covered Basware pretty extensively (see here and here for examples), and we'll provide a more detailed technology review here at some point.  But an interesting European-based option without a doubt for P2P projects, particularly if automating invoicing is particularly important for you and offers major scope for quick wins.

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